My son is now over thirty-years-old but I still remember the summer when I was expecting him. I had two little children at that time and was worried how I would be able to manage all three without having nursery school or playgroup for the older ones. There would be no time to take a nap during the day. I knew I would need a good night’s sleep. However, babies and a good night’s sleep just don’t go hand-in-hand. So, I spent a good part of the nine months of my pregnancy praying for a baby who would sleep through the night.
That particular prayer was not answered. In fact, I was told that since my baby was small I should feed him every three hours. “Set your alarm,” the doctor instructed me. “If he doesn’t wake up on his own you will need to wake him to eat.”
I never had to wake him. More often than not, he was awake and wanting to nurse every two hours. I loved him dearly but I spent most of the time barely functioning due to sleep deprivation. He was only a week old when a neighbor gave birth to a pretty, little girl. My son was eleven days old when this neighbor came home from the hospital. Soon a rumor was circulating around the neighborhood. The baby girl had slept through the night her first night home from the hospital. She did the same on the second night and on the third one, too.
To say I wasn’t jealous would be lying. I could not believe how envious I felt. Finally, I called up the other new mother for confirmation of the spreading tale. She verified the local gossip and made a nice offer to me.
“I arranged a mother’s helper for the first couple of months but I don’t need her now. Maybe you want to hire her?”
I jumped at her suggestion. With a young teenager in the house I could at least take a nap. Somehow I trudged through the days dreaming of having a full night’s sleep like my neighbor.
When her baby was two-months-old, though, another rumor circulated the neighborhood. This time it wasn’t such a nice piece of information. The baby girl was in the hospital. She wasn’t gaining weight and the doctors wanted to know why. All the tests came out clean and she was released from the hospital.
I’m sure her family was thrilled to have her home again. It is never easy to have a family member in the hospital. It must have been very stressful, however, to have not known what caused the problem. Still, I didn’t really concern myself with it much. I had my hands full and, besides, when their baby was three months old the whole family moved to Israel.
Another tale began circulating a couple of months later. The baby was back in the hospital, this time in Israel. And this time the Israeli doctors discovered what the problem was. The baby’s intestine was not fully developed. She was not crying at night because she wasn’t hungry. She had successful, reconstructive surgery and began growing. Now, thankfully, she is a healthy, married adult leading a productive life.
I learned my lesson. Sleep is great but a healthy baby is even better. I can’t say I never complained about one am feedings but as I complained I knew I had what to be thankful for. Now all my babies are grown and still some do not sleep through the night. Rather, they are up with babies of their own. Although I can sympathize with their sleep deprivation, I am also thankful to HaShem for my healthy grandchildren.